Twenty years ago I attended my first Oprah show taping. It was a fabulous day because I was treated to a movie and lunch before attending a taping of the show. Goldi Hawn was the special guest that day. She shared inside secrets of her latest movie “Deceived” and answered audience questions. I asked how she managed her life, her kids and a successful movie career. She was beautiful and gracious. I left the studio wanting to work for Oprah.
Since that time I’ve attended 12 shows and was an on-camera guest for three of them.
Each time I visited her studio I felt like I was home. I thought it was because I wanted to work there but the real reason is that this was a place where everyone in the studio audience was elated to be there – especially me. It also helped that every staff member seemed to love their job and wanted everyone of us to have an amazing experience.
I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the Oprah experience with my kids and a few friends. People would always ask how I attended so many shows. Simple. Every morning there would be an announcement for the Chicago area views only and I’d call non-stop for hours. Years later when her web site was launched I’d send emotion filled emails that caught the producer’s attention. I think the real key is that I always wrote my honest thoughts and feelings.
I was always picked for the Book of the Month club shows because if was an English teacher. One time Oprah gave me several cartons of books when I told her I thought my students should read the book of the month selection.
One of my favorite memories was when I graced the stage with Oprah. I wrote a letter explaining how O Magazine helped me make a difficult decision and I was featured in one of the segments on the show. As I stood on the stage next to Oprah as the taped footage of my story played it took every ounce of self control not to jump up and down and flail my arms uncontrollable like a crazy person. My self control paid off because she thanked me for being such a loyal reader of her magazine and later in the show gave me an autographed copy of the one magazine I wasn’t able to buy – the premier issue. I could have floated home that day. No limo needed.
A few minutes later I met Martha Beck and it took every ounce of self-control to refrain from doing the “ugly” cry. Looking back at the tape I see I wasn’t too successful. I never thought in a million years I’d get to grace the stage with Opran and now Martha! It was a remarkable experience and relieving it now still gives me goosebumps.
The Oprah Winfrey show changed every aspect of my life. Martha invited me to her next life coaches training during one of the commercial breaks and I’ve helped hundreds of women the same way Oprah and Martha have helped me.
I think that’s the most important legacy Oprah leaves behind. She empowered women, men and children to live their best life and gave us the tools we needed to do just that.
She also shared her deepest darkest secrets with us. I think that’s why I trusted her with my personal stories when I wrote to the show and possibly why I sat in so many of her studio audiences.
Oprah inspired me to live a different life when I thought it wasn’t possible and I’m dedicating the rest of my life to helping people do the same thing.
I haven’t watched the last few shows because I don’t want to acknowledge the show has ended. I guess I don’t want to realize that my tenure at Oprah U is over. There won’t be any more letters to write seeking a seat in her studio audience and no more shows to attend.
It was all so magical and surreal at times and I can honestly say I’m a better person because Oprah and her staff loved their jobs and cared enough to produce one of the best shows on television every single day for 25 years. They all fulfilled their life’s purpose and helped millions of people, just like me, do the same.

Author's Bio: 

Sheryl Jones is a Certified Life Coach. She works with women helping them live a happier life. She will soon release her first book: Love you: 30 days to a happier life in July. Sheryl was trained by O Magazine columnist Martha Beck in 2005 and has helped hundreds of women live happier lives.